It should be remembered that Junior was signed at what was then a substantial discount from the going market rate.
It should also be remembered that, at the time, Mr. Lindner was the brand-new owner of the team. He opened his wallet for Griffey, which sent a signal to fans and front office alike that he was willing to spend money to acquire talent. The Larkin signing reinforced that theory. I think many of us believed that Lindner going to keep funding a mid-range payroll team.
But then the purse strings tightened. Bowden was handcuffed and unable to take on salary, which meant that his greatest strength (the ability to acquire established talent via trade) was taken away from him, and his greatest weakness (the ability to draft and develop pitching) was exposed.